[Marxism] TCM: Festival features 80 years of movies about the Great Depression

jayroth6 jayroth6 at cox.net
Tue Sep 29 10:12:40 MDT 2009


Thursdays in October

excerpt from program notes:

Throughout the Great Depression, Americans flocked to the movies as an affordable form of entertainment and social interaction. For a quarter or so, customers could forget their troubles with glitzy musicals (Gold Diggers of 1933) or screwy comedies (My Man Godfrey, 1936), while rubbing elbows with others who were temporarily escaping harsh realities. Still today, movies are considered a recession-proof industry; the tougher the times, the greater the need for escapism.

Yet many Hollywood movies of the 1930s were more than mere entertainment, offering an examination of hot-button topics of the day including socialism (Our Daily Bread, 1934), vagrancy (Wild Boys of the Road, 1933) and the role of financial institutions in the country's woes (American Madness, 1932). To mark the 80th anniversary of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, our festival includes The Crash (1932), in which a wealthy couple struggles to survive its losses. 

The Depression left such a deep mark on the country that filmmakers over the decades have continued to examine this turbulent time. With his screen version of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1940), John Ford dramatizes the plight of Dust Bowl migrants. Sydney Pollack's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) looks at the grueling dance marathons of the period, while Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory (1976) tells the story of Depression-era troubadour Woody Guthrie. In a lighter vein, Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) blurs the line between reality and film fantasy as a movie hero of the '30s steps out of the screen to romance a lonely young woman. Joel and Ethan Cohen's boisterous O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), proudly presented in its TCM premiere, follows the misadventures of three escaped convicts in the Deep South of the Depression. 

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